Barbecues are getting smarter, faster, and more portable. Here are six tested favorites.
Char-Broil SmartChef Gas ($600)
The Internet of Things now includes your barbecue. The SmartChef pairs with an app that lets you adjust the temperature via Wi-Fi. The Tru-Infrared system—a steel plate between the cooking surface and the heat source that distributes power evenly—got the grill hot in about eight minutes. Note: must be plugged in.
Big Green Egg MiniMax ($599)
There’s a reason the charcoal-fired Big Green Egg has a cult following: it can smoke, grill, roast, and bake. We love that it infuses whatever it’s cooking with a rich hit of smoke. Dialing in the vent system, which controls temperature, does take some effort. But once you master it, you’ll be hooked on the Egg.
UCO Flatpack ($50)
Folding up to just 1.5 inches thick, this simple, stowable grill slips into even the most overstuffed packs. It deploys in a single motion (think camp chair) and cooks with charcoal or wood. The grilling surface fits a couple of steaks, and while they’ll take longer to cook than with gas, the end result has smoky goodness that only flames can provide.
Coleman RoadTrip X-Cursion Propane ($219)
When you want to spend more time playing cornhole and less time baby-sitting your burner, this propane-fueled base-camper is the way to go. It’s powerful and even-heated enough to cook five generous burgers or a mess of brats with minimal tending. The lid has low clearance, so if you’re grilling anything huge, you’ll have to leave it up.
Primus Kuchoma ($180)
Small but mighty, the nine-pound Kuchoma cranks out an impressive 8,500 BTUs when equipped with a propane canister. My test grill easily charred four turkey burgers in about ten minutes and still had plenty of fuel left for bacon the following morning. With its matte black finish and oak handle, the Kuchoma is also the best-looking cooker here.
PK Grills PKTX ($399)
Made of rustproof and virtually unbreakable cast aluminum, the PKTX charcoal grill will probably outlive you. While it’s not the most travel-friendly model we tested, the collapsible base means it’s as happy on uneven dirt as on your deck. It takes some fiddling to get the vents positioned just right, but once we did, the PKTX seared four big pork chops with ease.